This introductory chapter deals with the fundamentals of Iran’s contemporary history, indispensable for an understanding of the dynamics that went into the making of the Islamic Revolution. A panoramic view of the highlights of previous events offered in this chapter provides the necessary perspective. The author argues that the landmark events in twentieth-century Iran invariably resulted from interactions between the crown, the clerical estate and the intelligentsia, and that the imbalance among these poles invariably caused conflict. Foreign influence had also an input. The Islamic Revolution had the same make-up and pattern. The emergence of the new middle class ended the elitist and westernizing trends and brought a fundamental cultural transformation in the 1960s that led the new middle-class youth to drift toward political extremes.